Architect: Ignite Ltd / Project Manager: Stratum Unlimited Ltd / Engineer: BGT Structures

Innovative Kiwi company, TimberLab has been central to the creation of a spectacular development in Papua New Guinea, building massive curved timber portals for the Star Mountain Plaza Convention Centre in Port Moresby.

Once completed, the Star Mountain Plaza will be the country’s first integrated commercial development, delivering world class hotel, commercial and residential assets and also serving as host venue for an APEC Summit in November this year.

Award winning specialist in timber structures, TimberLab worked closely with project managers Stratum Unlimited to develop cost-effective solution to manufacture gigantic, prefabricated, over-dimensional beams for the roof form of the convention centre.

The Ignite architects design referenced the traditional long house, typical to PNG, requiring twelve 30m span curved portals, standing 18m high with complex curves.

Other wooden components included the Canopy (extends out on 1 side, supported by turned Glulam struts) and sloping end frames that required precise CNC processing.

To make the project more complex, components required splice joints to allow shipping from New Zealand to the site and easy assembly on site.

TimberLab CEO Grant McIntosh said that the project was challenging, but satisfying and an excellent example of how timber can successfully achieve what other building materials can’t.

“Different pre-fabricated elements were required for the project and using our 5 axis CNC Gantry Bridge, we were able to achieve the high levels of accuracy required and to deliver ahead of schedule,” he said.

For the past 50 years, TimberLab has been supplying numerous and varied Glulam structures throughout Australasia, Pacific and into the Middle East and Asia. Structures have included beach resorts, pergolas, sports stadia, bridges and various community facilities; many of which are situated on beach front locations.

The landmark Star Mountain Plaza conference, accommodation and retail development is a multi-use facility, designed to help PNG attract more overseas visitors in future generations.

The venue is now expected to be completed in September – two months prior to the start of APEC.

As well as providing an authentic experience for international visitors, it was important to the client that Star Mountain Plaza would become a source of pride for the people of Papua New Guinea.

In keeping with the client’s brief, the design of this iconic development carefully marries Papua New Guinea’s unique cultural heritage with contemporary architectural features.

Traditional longhouse buildings are referenced in the design of the convention centre, and the major tower facades are inspired by war and ceremonial shields. To ensure a culturally authentic design, the pattern on the facades has been created in collaboration with a local artist. Other key architectural aspects feature patterns drawn from traditional graphic and textile designs.

To create the sense of a distinct but unified set of facilities, horizontal and vertical links between the various buildings have been carefully designed to provide ease-of-access between spaces. In the centre of the development is a generous central courtyard that creates an inviting ‘heart’ for the complex.

More than 800 team members worked 24 hours a day shifts to ensure its early completion and the workforce is expected to increase by a further 200 over the next six weeks as the interior fit out progresses.

In addition to the conference venue the introduction of a 212 room Hilton Port Moresby will have wide ranging and long term benefits for the country. Stage two will see the development of a 160-apartment residential tower, along with new retail areas. In stage three, a 150-room hotel will be added, along with additional retail, commercial and office space.

Independent reports project the development to bring in more than $235 million Kina in tourism revenue and other economic benefits to the region in the next 20 years.

The project is also ground breaking for PNG, with the project including many social initiatives in its creation. To combat a shortage of skilled local labour, onsite training programmes were held for workers, who also had free access to healthcare including vision testing and free glasses for themselves and family members.

A hospital screening programme identified almost half of workers needed prescription lenses for previously undiagnosed vision conditions, and providing those workers with free glasses helped provide a safer workplace environment for them and their colleagues.

Other workplace benefits included the provision of three catered meals daily, unlimited bottled water and the supply of electrolyte supplements to prevent dehydration. Staff were also offered immediate access to private hospital care paid for by the company.

The completed project will feature over 5600m² of planting, 566m² of artificial turf, water features and hard landscaping of more than 12,000 examples of PNG’s flora, planted in one of the one of the nation’s largest ever landscaping projects of its kind.

Star Mountain Plaza is a joint venture company owned by three major provincial land owner companies, Mineral Resources Star Mountain (MRSM), Mineral Resources Ok Tedi (MROT), and Petroleum Resources Kutubu (PRK). All three of these entities come under the trusteeship of Mineral Resources Development Company Limited (MRDC), a company which was established in 1975 and is 100% owned by the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Ignite’s Conceptual Drawingroof form of convention centre taken from traditional long house; typical to PNG.

The Convention Centre is part of the facilities for the APEC Summit to be held at Star Mountain Plaza, Port Moresby in November 2018.

Placing prefabricted roof arches in place.

TimberLab manufactured these gigantic, prefabricated, over-dimensional beams; trucking them to wharf for shipping to site in PNG. Different pre-fabricated elements were required for the project and using a 5 axis CNC Gantry Bridge, TimberLab was able to achieve the high levels of accuracy required and delivery ahead of schedule.